'Blade Runner 2049' nearly matches the original film
Denis Villeneuve is no rookie when it comes to making movies. With a track record that includes “Enemy,” “Prisoners,” “Sicario” and “Arrival,” I wasn’t worried that he would drop the ball on the sequel to one of my all-time favorite films: “Blade Runner.” In fact, I was ecstatic that Villeneuve had been given creative control over the film instead of Ridley Scott, the director of the original “Blade Runner,” as Scott’s modern films have left audiences disappointed time and time again. Specifically, Scott’s discussion of Blade Runner in an interview where he incoherently expressed his love for "Beevis and Butthead” only served to reinforce my support for Villeneuve being in the director’s chair.
The world of “Blade Runner” is set in a horribly polluted dystopian future, where it is almost always raining and humanity is attempting to escape earth’s slow but sure collapse by colonizing other planets in our solar system. This colonizing turns out to be hard work and a disposable work force is created, called replicants, to fill this need and prevent humans from having to get their hands dirty. Problems with this system arise quickly when replicants, which are virtually indistinguishable from humans, begin to go rogue and revolt, with some escaping to earth. Blade Runner units are created in every police department. These units are comprised of officers tasked specifically with hunting down and killing replicants, only it’s not called “murder” when a replicant is killed, it is instead referred to as retirement. Ryan Gosling plays a Blade Runner named Officer K in the new movie, just as Harrison Ford played a Blade Runner named Rick Deckard in the original.
“Blade Runner 2049” has a fantastic story that features Ryan Gosling’s Officer K investigating a secret that threatens to destroy what remains of his society and the film retains some of the same great philosophical themes of the first movie. Additionally, the movie has breathtaking cinematography that again captures the disgusting, polluted and cramped nature of city life in “Blade Runner’s” universe.
The acting is great as well with Gosling perfectly depicting a sad, lonely and sympathetic character, and the returning Ford knocking it out of the park as the tired and weathered veteran. Lastly, the dialogue makes everything else in the movie fit together as it is complex, nuanced and thought-provoking.
“Blade Runner 2049” managed to nearly match the original’s ingenuity and emotion, especially in its final scene, to my utter surprise. It was nearly impossible for it to reach the same heights as the original but the fact that it even managed to get close speaks to the quality of this film. Referring to the first film directly, I was not expecting “Blade Runner 2049” to have anything like the emotionally powerful closing “Tears in rain” scene, even with Villeneuve’s top notch direction and Hampton Fancher’s excellent writing. After all, the emotion and intensive philosophical themes behind that scene and the first movie as a whole are what made it so special to fans. Science fiction, at the time of the original’s release, rarely touched on such profound themes as what makes a human truly human, free will and creation as Blade Runner did.
However, there were a few blemishes in this overall successful film. Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace, the blind mass manufacturer of replicants, is intriguing and well performed but is hardly ever on screen. Sylvia Hoeks’ Luv, as the other villain, is flat, uninspired and seemingly evil for the sake of being evil. Finally, the original Blade Runner had a great original soundtrack done by Vangelis that featured scene enhancing pieces like “Tears in Rain” and “Blade Runner Blues,” while this movie has nothing but vague atmospheric pieces that I often didn’t even notice.
In short, if you’re a fan of the series, go see this as soon as possible. If you’re new to the series then I recommend watching the original first as most of this plot will be incomprehensible without the context of the first movie.
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